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Teen learns valuable lesson after causing fire

June 11, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

It seemed like a harmless thing, cooking some french fries to satisfy his teenage appetite.

But a moment of carelessness and Aubrey Keyes learned the hard way that one should never leave the kitchen when food is cooking.

The 13-year-old Western Heights student found himself in the middle of a kitchen fire April 10.

"I just went into the bathroom for a minute and when I came back, the smoke detector was going off and the kitchen was on fire," Aubrey said.

With his parents away, Aubrey decided to put water on the fire, which caused the grease to splatter and the fire to spread.

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"I did call 911 but not until after I tried to put the fire out myself," he said.

The fire got into the walls and spread into the second floor and the attic before firefighters arrived and extinguished it.

Now, two months after the fire destroyed his family's rented home at 47 Bethel St., Aubrey and his family have started over at 26 Laurel St.

"I went to Children's Village of Washington County when I was in the second grade but I guess I forgot what I learned there," Aubrey said.

His mother, Norma Pompey, said she pulled up in front of their Bethel Street home just before the firefighters arrived.

"He learned what to do but you really never know what you'll do until it happens to you," she said.

Her husband, Michael Pompey was out picking up a suit when the fire broke out.

The damage made the home uninhabitable, she said, noting they had lived there about four years. Fortunately the family had renter's insurance and was able to quickly move to another home, Pompey said.

Aubrey said he is much more careful about cooking now. He joins the Hagerstown Fire Department in stressing to other kids not to leave the kitchen when food is cooking.

Firefighters will be visiting homes in Hagerstown over the next five weeks, pushing fire safety, especially the need for smoke detectors and for being careful while cooking.

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